In his keynote address to the Republican Party of Iowa's Celebrate Life event last month, Mike Huckabee—former governor of Arkansas, failed candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and now a host of his own talk show on Fox "News"—compared abortion to the Holocaust.

It's not remarkable that he did so; forced-birthers have long been fond of oh-so-casually comparing a legal medical procedure to the religious genocide of millions. In fact, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about his speech, filled with standard anti-choice bile and nonsense—which is precisely what makes it remarkable. This is the "pro-life" movement, and Huckabee, who has for far too long been given a pass by the media as one of the "nicer" conservatives because he delivers his hate with a jolly smile, is one of its most prominent leaders. If you want to understand just how twisted, how hateful, how blatantly wrong and downright evil this movement really is, you need look no further than Huckabee's speech. Just be sure to keep Huckabee's own words in mind:

I actually carried out the death penalty 16 times more than any governor in my state's history.

Now head below the fold for Huckabee's impassioned plea for "life."

Huckabee begins his speech by describing Oskar Schindler, who, during the Holocaust, saved the lives of more than a thousand Jews by employing them in his factory.

The Jews have an expression: he who saves a life saves the whole world. I sometimes think that we could use a few more scoundrels. We could use a few more people who are notorious sinners—if, in fact, they would intervene on behalf of human life.

I ask you, who is the most righteous? Is it the person who sings the loudest, who prays the longest? Is it the person who has memorized the most Bible verses, but never lifts a finger to intervene on behalf of another human being's life or death? Or is the person who maybe has a lifestyle that is less than desirable, but who, when it really counts, is willing to stand between life and death for other human beings?

Let us pause for this brief reminder of Huckabee's own words: "I actually carried out the death penalty 16 times more than any governor in my state's history."

Okay, then, let's continue:

And now we're called into this incredible holocaust of our own in America. Fifty-five million babies. Fifty-five million babies since 1973 have died in what ought to be the safest place in the world: their mothers' womb. And it's become one of the most dangerous places for a baby to be.

For us, this is not about the politics of Democrat and Republican, winning and losing. It's about our capacity to one day stand before a holy god and give an account for whether we stood between life and death for those who had no voice but ours, who had no hands to raise and say "no" except ours.

And now for a little fact-checking interruption about why wombs are no safe haven. In 2010, Amnesty International released a report about the "maternal health crisis" in America:
The report, titled "Deadly Delivery," notes that the likelihood of a woman's dying in childbirth in the U.S. is five times as great as in Greece, four times as great as in Germany and three times as great as in Spain. Every day in the U.S., more than two women die of pregnancy-related causes, with the maternal mortality ratio doubling from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006.
The report also found that "one in four women do not receive adequate prenatal care," and that the majority of those deaths were easily preventable with improved access to affordable health care. Those unborn children, for whom Huckabee claims to be so concerned, are denied basic and necessary care even before they're born. That is what makes wombs so dangerous—and it has nothing to do with abortion.  
I want to mention today that the heart of the pro-life movement is not about trying to end abortion as much as it is to try to help people understand that abortion ends when we elevate every human life as a life of value. And the ultimate goal, and the message that we must articulate, is there is no such thing as a life that is expendable, disposable and unworthy of being treated with dignity and respect. Our founders said it eloquently in the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these things, these truths, to be self-evident. That all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

It is not the government who has the right to determine the value of our life or the nature of our death.

Remember: "I actually carried out the death penalty 16 times more than any governor in my state's history."
And our founders recognized this—though they didn't get it all right, they understood that all of us have a sense of equality because our equality comes from the fact that we have our roots and our origins, not merely by human hands, but that our creation is the result of a divine intervention. And they saw it that way. We're all created equal. Endowed by our creator with those unalienable rights. It is not the job of government to give life or to decide who gets to take it. It is the job of government to protect that which God has given us responsibility for, and in the case of an unborn child, it is the life of those most vulnerable that it is our duty to protect and to seek to preserve.
While Huckabee and his fellow conservatives may claim to believe it is the government's job to protect the unborn, they don't think the government has any business doing a damned thing for the born. That's why conservatives have fought against the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, early childhood education, nutritional assistance programs, child labor laws—basically anything that protects and provides for children—because of empty catch-phrases like "free market" and "self-reliance" and "bootstraps."
Now, we've spent, for the last 40 years in this country, since Roe v. Wade, we've taught the idea that life can be expendable if the life represents a social disruption or a financial hardship on the biological mother. I mean, that's the basis of abortion on demand. Well, I can't really carry this baby because I'd have to drop out of college. I can't carry the baby because it would cost me a promotion at work. I can't carry the baby because my mother would be furious at me if she finds out I'm pregnant. My father will never understand this. So for the purpose of our social disruptions, or sometimes for financial hardships, I can't afford the baby.
While Huckabee so easily and dismissively scoffs at the reasons why women might want to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, there's one young woman's name he should learn: Spring Adams, who died at the age of 13, when her father, who had raped and impregnated her, shot and killed her in her sleep after finding out she planned to obtain an abortion.
I understand the hardship, but I think we've got to be very careful never to be condemning of that young lady in the most painful and difficult moment of her life. I'm so grateful for what Marla said here today. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful, and her own story is a powerful one. The story of a frightened young girl having to make a very tough decision, and in her case, making the right one. And we shouldn't be condemning of those who make a different one. We should reach out to them with the same message of grace and redemption, but never waiver from our message that life is precious.
It's almost impressive the way Huckabee first ridicules and condemns the reasons women might choose an abortion, and then, in the very next breath, insists that these women should not be condemned—and then, in the breath after that, continues to condemn them for making what he considers the "wrong" choice. This is what passes for his "message of grace."
Now think about if we instill, as we have in this culture of ours, the notion that life is disposable if it represents financial hardships or social disruptions. Here's what we've told the generation coming after us, the generation of my children and now my grandchildren. We've told them that if they were expendable at that end of the spectrum of life because they just were going to be too expensive, or because they represented for us having to mess up our calendars, then we have now told them that at the other end of the spectrum of life, when they become our caretakers, we've already now given them permission. In fact, we have given them full rights to end our lives, because I guarantee you, at that end of the spectrum, we will be a financial hardship to them, and we will represent a social disruption when they have to give up their weekends to come check on us in the long-term care center, and when they have to write the check every month for all of that expensive care that we're going to end up costing.
It's curious, to say the least, that Huckabee is concerned that his children and grandchildren might prefer to off him rather than write out those expensive checks to the nursing home. But if his concern is genuine—which, you can be sure from his laughter, it isn't—he might want to have a conversation with his own Republican Party. It's his party, after all, that is so eager to cut or eliminate entirely the very programs, like Social Security and Medicare and even Meals on Wheels, that would ease the financial burden of caring for Huckabee in his old age. But conservatives don't believe in preserving that social safety net; after all, the government only has an obligation to protect and provide for you while you're still in the womb. After that, you're on your own.
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm going to tell you something. I'm going to make it much tougher for my kids to get rid of me than that. I'm telling you now, I am not going to go easily.
And then the room fills with laughter. Oh, what a wonderful speech. Oh, what a charming man. Oh, what a great voice for a movement that believes it is better to let women die than spend a single government dollar on their health care or the health care of their children once they are born. Toss in some basic shaming of the choices women make, an outrageous comparison to genocide, and voila. There's your "pro-life" movement, neatly summed up by one of its most charismatic leaders, because every single life has value, and "it is not the government who has the right to determine the value of our life or the nature of our death."

Just remember:

I actually carried out the death penalty 16 times more than any governor in my state's history.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Abortion and Pro Choice.

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